Categories
Bible Insights

Don’t Drive God Away

In Ezekiel’s Day the People Did What God Detested

In the eighth chapter of Ezekiel, God takes the prophet to Jerusalem to see the area around the temple. Each place God takes him, Ezekiel looks and sees the people doing things God abhors. God says he’ll drive them from his sanctuary.

After several recurrences, the chapter ends with God’s response to the people’s vile actions. He says:

  • I will deal with them in anger.
  • I will not look on them with pity.
  • I will not spare them.
  • I will not listen to them, even though they shout.

The people did what the Holy one detested. Their actions served to drive God away from the sanctuary. They would get what they deserved.

I wonder if we do the same thing with some of our religious practices at church today? Do we do things God detests? Do we drive him away? I hope it isn’t so, but fear it is.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 5-8, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 8:6 and 18.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Great Is Our God

We Must Remove Anything That Threatens to Push God Aside

Asaph writes that God’s ways are holy, and that no other god is as great as he. Great is our God. In the context of that day, other gods refers to idols or made-up deities aside from the God revealed in Scripture.

Today bowing down to idols and making up gods to worship doesn’t often happen in a literal sense. But in a figurative manner we do this all the time.

Here are some modern-day gods that many people effectively worship and serve as their lord:

Money

In many cultures, people pursue money as if it’s the only thing that matters. They don’t just want money to live, but they live for money and love money. They treat their investment portfolio and their bank balance as a scorecard for success.

Their priorities are wrong. What the world values is seldom what God values. Instead of trusting in money, they should trust in God.

We cannot serve both God and money (Luke 16:13).

Possessions

In developed countries, people are materialistic. Having more than enough money to supply their daily needs, many use their excess wealth to accumulate possessions. They buy stuff with the expectation that it will make them happier and more fulfilled. It never does.

My dad often said, “You don’t own things. They own you.” He was so wise. Remember, God blesses us so that we can bless others.

Instead of seeking solace through possessions, we should first seek connection with the Almighty (Matthew 6:33).

Influence

Another thing some people elevate too highly in their lives is the ability to influence others. Influence isn’t necessarily bad. We can influence others to follow Jesus (see Matthew 5:16). And we should.

Yet for some, the unbridled quest of influence has surpassed their quest for God.

Respect

Others pursue the god of respect. I see this happen too often among church leaders who insist their followers addressed them using their credentials, such as Reverend, Doctor, or Father. This was prevalent in Jesus’s day, too, and he warned against it (Matthew 23:9 and Mark 12:38-39).

Though descriptive titles can aid in understanding, they can also become a sense of pride. Examples I often hear include senior pastor, lead pastor, and teaching pastor.

Approval

Another consideration is seeking the approval of others. We may have a psychological need to earn someone’s approval. But this isn’t God’s intention. Paul warns against this and writes that we should only seek God’s approval (Galatians 1:10).

Great is our God. Everything else is secondary. Click To Tweet

Great is our God

None of these pursuits—money, possessions, influence, respect, or approval—are necessarily bad. But when we chase after them like gods, we run the risk of them becoming more important to us then God.

Great is our God. Everything else is secondary, if even that.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 76-80 and today’s post is on Psalm 77:13.]

Categories
Bible Insights

When You Make a Vow to God

Be Sure to Follow Through on What You Promise to Do

Have you ever promised God that you’d do something for him? Sometimes these occur from the Holy Spirit’s stirring within our souls. Yet other times, these come at a traumatic moment in a person’s life when they’re in the middle of a crisis. They bargain with the Almighty. They make a conditional vow to God: “If you get me out of this jam, then I will do ______ for you.”

What goes in the blank varies. It may be an act of service, to give money, or to change a behavior, either to start doing something good or to stop doing something they shouldn’t be doing. Regardless of the promise they make and the fact that it contains a stipulation for God to act first, the result is they are making a vow to God.

I’m not sure how God views these provisional pledges. On one hand it seems a bit manipulative by the person making the promise. Yet there is the potential for good to come out of it, providing the person making the pledge keeps their vow to God.

Lest there be any doubt about it, God expects us to follow through and keep our vow. In the book of Numbers, Moses writes that when we make a vow to God or promise to do something we must keep our word and not break our pledge (Numbers 30:2).

Though the Bible doesn’t require us to make a vow to God, it does clearly state that if we choose to do so, we must follow through and do all that we promised.

Moses later writes an additional command on the subject. He adds that when we make a vow to God, we must not be slow in fulfilling that promise. To procrastinate is a sin (Deuteronomy 23:21). A delayed obedience is disobedience.

Don’t make a rash vow to God. Instead, live a life where you don’t have to. Click To Tweet

Jesus repeats this instruction in his Sermon on the Mount. Then he adds a wise addendum, telling the crowd that the better solution is to not make a promise in God’s name (Matthew 5:33-34).

This last part is wise advice for us to follow. Don’t make a rash vow to God. Instead, live a life where we don’t feel we have to.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 28-30 and today’s post is on Numbers 30:2.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Let’s Not Forget Who’s in Charge

Good and Evil are Not Equal and Opposite Forces

In Revelation we read about the dragon and the beast, a great battle, and the tribulation the whole world faces.

The Beast

Embedded in the middle of this epic tale, we see a curious revelation. John writes that the beast is given power to wage war against God’s people that he created. John says the beast is given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation (Revelation 13:7).

Who gave the beast his power and authority?

God.

If God can grant the beast power and authority over the world and all creation, then that means God is more powerful than the beast and the forces of evil.

Think about this.

Contrary to what many people think, God and Satan do not exist as equal players in the age-old war of good versus evil. God is superior to Satan. God created Satan, albeit for good. Satan, in his pride, rebelled against God and has fought him ever since.

You see, the battle isn’t fair. God has the upper hand. Satan functions within the limits God places on him.

In the final battle, the victory goes to God. Click To Tweet

The Final Battle: God Wins; Satan Loses

That means in the final battle, we already know the winner. The victory goes to God. Satan loses. Big time.

If we’re on God’s team, we’re on the winning side. And for those who follow the enemy, they’ll lose along with him.

God’s in charge. God is more powerful then evil. Let’s not forget that. When we go with God, we go with the winner.

To him be the honor, and the glory, and the power, forever and ever. Amen.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Revelation 13-16, and today’s post is on Revelation 13:7.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Don’t Fight Against God

Too many people fail to see God at work and instead oppose those who follow him into his new ways

Jesus warns his followers what awaits them. First, they’ll get kicked out of their church and then people will kill them. Their opponents will do so in the name of religion, thinking they’re acting in service to God, but their actions fight against God.

This means the killers aren’t coming from the world but from within the family of God.

Historically this happens whenever a new move of God occurs. The biggest movement of God was Jesus coming to fulfill the Old Testament Law. Most people miss this, and so they oppose him.

Moses

There is also Moses who leads the people from slavery to freedom. He gives them instructions on how to live as a free people. They oppose him—for forty years. Though they don’t kill him, they provoke him so much that sometimes he wishes he was dead (Exodus 32:32 and Numbers 11:15).

The Prophets

The Old Testament prophets likewise suffer opposition and death. It seldom goes well for them.

Today’s Church Can Fight Against God

The pattern of religious conflict continues since the time of Jesus. Most notably the Reformation. Christians oppose other Christians. Christians hate other Christians. And Christians kill other Christians.

Another momentous time of Christian versus Christian hostility happens at the birth of the Charismatic movement in the early 1900s and again at its rebirth in the 1960s.

Instead of arguing, let’s listen. Click To Tweet

Each time God is at work doing a new thing. Each time, many of his people mount a significant opposition. And God’s messengers usually suffer for it.

Gamaliel’s Wise Advice

Don’t label the people who follow God into his new way of doing things as heretics and oppose them. Instead, we would be better off heeding the words of Gamaliel who told the religious leaders, “Don’t bother with them.

If they’re doing this on their own, they will fail. But if it’s of God, we can’t stop them—and could end up fighting against God himself,” (see Acts 5:38-39). That is, don’t fight against God.

Instead of kicking the people we disagree with out of church, we would be better off seeing if God is at work. Instead of arguing, let’s listen.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is John 16-17, and today’s post is on John 16:2-3.]

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Save

Categories
Bible Insights

2 Key Truths About Leadership

The Bible Teaches Us Leadership Principles

The book of Proverbs overflows with wise advice and thought-provoking sayings. Often these one-liners produce the material for great soundbites or social media memes.

Yet some parts require a bit more work before we can find value in their words. Such is the case with Proverbs 14:28. It says, “A large population is a king’s glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined.”

Yeah, I get it. A king swells with pride over having a large kingdom with many subjects. Conversely, without people there is no need for a ruler.

So how does this apply to us today?

Let’s move from the concept of kings and subjects—which most of us have no experience in—and move to the idea of leaders and followers. This helps a lot. This verse teaches us about leadership.

Leaders Require Followers

Leaders have followers. Without followers, they have no one to lead. Some leaders have many followers, and others, just a few. Yet all leaders must have followers. It’s a requirement for leadership. You can’t have one without the other.

Whether it’s in business, nonprofits, or churches, the leaders of these institutions must have followers. Otherwise the organization cannot continue, as its survival requires both leaders and followers.

When followers don’t respect a leader, they soon cease following. While some leaders inspire loyal followers, the leadership of others has the opposite effect. They push people away.

If you’re leader, look at your followers. If your number of followers is growing, their actions demonstrate loyalty, and you have a stable base, this implies you’re an effective leader.

However, if your number of followers is shrinking (or nonexistent), you struggle to get them to do what you want, and your team keeps leaving, this implies you’re an ineffective leader. Though you can develop leadership skills, it may already be too late if your followers are scattering.

Followers Makes Leaders

What if you don’t view yourself as a leader or aren’t in a leadership position, but always have people around you, asking your opinion or wondering what they should do next? Maybe you’re a leader. Or at least it proves people view you as a leader, as someone they want to follow.

In fact, these people are already following you. They see leadership qualities in you. It’s just that you don’t realize it. While you could send them away to follow someone else, accept the respect they place in you and work to become a better leader for them.

While this may not be a recognized position, the fact that you have followers confirms the reality that you’re a leader.

God intends some people to lead and others to follow. Click To Tweet

God intends some people to lead and others to follow. Make sure you function in the role he created for you. Trying to be a leader when you’re not or ignoring your leadership when other people see it in you, causes you to fall short of what God wants for you.

While the world values leaders and applauds them, God has a different perspective. He affirms those who do what he calls them to do, both leaders and followers.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Proverbs 12-14, and today’s post is on Proverbs 14:28.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Peter DeHaan News

Victorious Christian Conference Update

Fresh Perspective of the Bible and God

Earlier this month I took part in the Victorious Christian Conference, hosted by Emily Louis. My session was a “Fresh Perspective of the Bible and God.” We covered that and a lot more.

Though I don’t like seeing myself on video or listening to a recording of my voice, I did enjoy my interaction with Emily and our faith discussion.

I pray you’ll get something useful from our words. Here’s the video of the session.

Here are some of the other speakers at the conference:

  • R. Christian Bohlen: “Letting the Life of Jesus Shape Our Lives”
  • Mimika Cooney: “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things for God”
  • Entrice Rowe: “Relational Prayer”
  • Wendy Snyder: “Relating to God as our Father”
  • Rick Torrison: “Created for More/Our Identity in Christ”
  • Daniel Lancaster: “Shame Is a Liar”
  • Kim Vollendorf: “Who God Says We Are”

If you want to hear their sessions at the Conference, it’s not too late. A backstage pass is available.

Hear a “Fresh Perspective of the Bible and God” from Peter DeHaan. Click To Tweet

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

My Haiku

Why I Write

Linking letters and
wielding words to create art
for God, my patron

My haiku first appeared in Imagine This! An ArtPrize Anthology.

After having one of my longest posts last week, The Seven Transformations of Peter DeHaan, today I’ll treat you to my shortest. It’s succinct, yet poignant.

Categories
Bible Insights

Four Lessons from Job about Devotion to God

Job Professes His Spiritual Practices

The words of Job’s friend Eliphaz fail to comfort him. Instead they stir up anger. With a friend who speaks like Eliphaz I’d be angry too. In Job’s reply to his so-called friend, he professes what he has done to align himself with God. He claims his practices prove his devotion to his Lord.

Job Follows God

Job says that he follows closely behind God. It’s as if he walks in God’s shadow, placing each step in the footprint of his Lord. With intention he trails after God, focusing on staying right behind him.

Job Resists Distractions

Job follows God with unswerving dedication. He keeps his eyes fixed on God, walking in his path. Job does not look to his left or to his right. He tunes out worldly distractions so he can remain steadfast in keeping aligned with God, going everywhere that God goes.

Job Obeys God’s Commands

Next Job says that he keeps the commands of God. He listens to what God says and follows his words with unswerving commitment. It’s as if Job pauses in expectation for God to speak. Then he immediately obeys him, doing everything he says to do.

Job Treasures God’s Words

Job ends his testimony saying that he values God’s words more than food. Though we might think this refers to the written Word of God, the Bible, it does not. Job likely lives in a time before the Scriptures existed. This means Job treasures the spoken words of God.

Job would rather feed his soul by listening to God then feed his body by eating food. For Job to hear God speak, Job must remain in close relationship with him.

There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. He loves us regardless of what we do or don’t do. Click To Tweet

The Outcome of Job’s Devotion

Job is a man who carefully follows God with singular focus, obeying him and valuing everything he says. It’s an example of godly devotion we will do well to follow.

You’d think that for Job’s dedication, God would bless him and keep him from discomfort. Yet for this time in Job’s life, he is in much distress and God’s blessings are absent in his life. Though a positive and pleasant outcome await Job, it’s far removed from his present life.

This is a hard reality to accept and to comprehend. Yet there are two things we must remember. First, God is Sovereign and can do whatever he wants.

We must accept this truth even if we don’t like it.

Second, there is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. He loves us regardless of what we do or don’t do. In the end, we, like Job, will see God’s blessing and reward. Until then we should follow Job’s example of devotion to our Lord.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Job 21-24, and today’s post is on Job 23:11-12.]

Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Sometimes God’s Instructions Are Temporary

After Jesus rises from the dead, he spends a few weeks hanging out with his followers. He tells then to stay in Jerusalem, waiting for a surprise Father God has planned for them: the gift of the Holy Spirit to come upon them and give them power (Matthew 28:19-20).

This is one of God’s instructions to them.

They wait and the Holy Spirit shows up (Acts 2:1-4). Amazing things happen, and the number of Jesus’ followers explodes (Acts 2:41).

They waited in Jerusalem as instructed, and they received the gift of Holy Spirit power as promised. But after all that, they remain in Jerusalem. They are supposed to spread out and spread the word. Jesus told them to do that too. But they don’t. They stay where they are.

They don’t seem to realize that God’s instructions to wait in Jerusalem doesn’t mean they’re supposed to stay there forever.

Sometimes what God tells us to do is only for a season. Then there’s something else for us to do. But if we don’t make that transition, we end up being in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Acts 1-4, and today’s post is on Acts 1:4-5.]

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Exit mobile version